Joe Looney was a fan favorite in Dallas. The offensive lineman was always a spiritual leader in the locker room and a bright spot on the practice field, often seen dancing and always with a huge grin on his face.
After five seasons in Dallas, the club elected not to re-sign him after the 2020 campaign. He joined the New York Giants on July 31, setting up a bittersweet reunion for the two games between the rival teams this year.
But that reunion is off the books already. According to ESPN, Looney has decided to retire from the NFL, five days after signing with New York.
Looney had been brought in by the Giants after guard Shane Lemieux went down with a knee injury. Looney reportedly took mostly second-team snaps in his first few days with the Giants but also saw a few first-team reps with quarterback Daniel Jones in former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett’s offense.
Much of the Giants roster was involved in a massive brawl on Tuesday, leading to an obscenity-laced tirade from New York coach Joe Judge and disciplinary sprints for the players. But NFL Network’s Mike Garofalo is reporting that the incident did not play into Looney’s decision to hang up his cleats.
“Joe always felt when his body didn’t respond the way he needed it to, it would be time to step away,” Looney’s agent Andy Ross told Garafolo. “He has too much respect for the Giants and Garrett to not do that.”
Joe Looney the Dancing Bearpic.twitter.com/t5cziFLxXw
— USC Analytics (@USCanalytics) August 4, 2021
Looney was a fourth-round draft pick in 2012 out of Wake Forest. Originally selected by the 49ers, he spent three seasons in San Francisco before going to Tennessee. After one season as a Titan, Looney signed with Dallas as a free agent. Over his tenure with the Cowboys, Looney proved to be a versatile multi-tasker who could play any position on the offensive line, even lining up as tight end in select short-yardage situations. Looney stepped in and started 16 games for All-Pro center Travis Frederick when Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome in 2018.
Joe Looney is retiring.
May we all remember fondly his finest moment as a Cowboy, when he convinced Cowboys fans at a training camp practice that he was an overweight Zeke Elliot…pic.twitter.com/jHOHFs9CCE
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) August 4, 2021
He re-signed with the Cowboys in 2020 and was the starting center until a sprained MCL sidelined him Week 4. He missed three contests, coming back in late October to see action in 13 games. The development of center Tyler Biadasz during Looney’s short absence helped make the 30-year-old an expendable commodity in Dallas.
Looney is now the third Giants player to call it quits since the start of that team’s training camp.
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